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Swiss Takeover Board asks China's HNA to clarify ownership

[ZURICH] The Swiss Takeover Board has asked China's HNA Group to clarify its ownership structure by early next month given apparent changes since its US$1.5 billion takeover last year of Swiss aviation services company Gategroup.

The takeover watchdog's website shows it has asked HNA to clear up by Oct 3 the apparent discrepancies.

Privately owned HNA, one of China's most aggressive dealmakers, in July shook up its shareholding structure with a new, charitable foundation, part of efforts to quash long-standing concerns over its ownership.

As China cracks down on showy overseas ventures and high-profile empire builders, pressure has risen on sprawling, fast-growing and acquisitive companies like HNA, which had announced US$50 billion of deals over two years, buying stakes in logistics companies, hotels and even Deutsche Bank.

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In a notification to HNA and Gategroup, the Swiss Takeover Board pointed out that shareholdings listed in HNA's prospectus for the Gategroup acquisition differed from recent statements by the group's top leadership.

Citing a story by the Financial Times, the board asked HNA to clarify details of share transactions in the group.

A representative for HNA in New York had no immediate comment on the Swiss request.

HNA Group is committed to disclosures on future changes of its shareholding structure, the head of the conglomerate's international unit said on Sept 8.

REUTERS

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